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The Village Blacksmith

- By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and was one of the Fireside Poets from New England. Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, which was then still part of Massachusetts. He studied at Bowdoin College and became a professor at Bowdoin and later at Harvard College after spending time in Europe. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). He retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, and he lived the remainder of his life in the Revolutionary War headquarters of George Washington in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His first wife Mary Potter died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife Frances Appleton died in 1861 after sustaining burns when her dress caught fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on translating works from foreign languages. He died in 1882.

The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
 
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
 
Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
 
And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And near the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
 
He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
 
It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his haul, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

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Questions and Answers The Village Blacksmith

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Word Lists:

Bellows : a device with an air bag that emits a stream of air when squeezed together with two handles, used for blowing air into a fire

Smithy : a blacksmith's workshop; a forge.

Sinewy : consisting of or resembling sinews.

Smith : a worker in metal.

Brawny : physically strong; muscular

Chaff : the husks of corn or other seed separated by winnowing or threshing.

Crisp : (of a substance) firm, dry, and brittle, especially in a way considered pleasing or attractive

Parson : a beneficed member of the clergy; a rector or a vicar.

Choir : an organized group of singers, typically one that takes part in church services or performs regularly in public

Spark : a small fiery particle thrown off from a fire, alight in ashes, or produced by striking together two hard surfaces such as stone or metal.

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